Walk XXX: Cypress Hills & Highland Park

13 11 2011

WOW!!!!

We did it!  All thirty walks done !  In under a year, no less!

Rock on!

Length: 3.1 miles

Navigation: Muy easy-o

Weather: Brisk, but warmed up a bit as the day went on

Route:

The walk is separated into three parts: (1) Cypress Hills, (2) Highland Park and (3) Cypress Hills revisited.

1. Cypress Hills

You may remember from my first walk (on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brooklyn Heights Promenade) that I was a bit concerned about this experiment’s timeline.  You see, I was so impressed with that particular walk, that I was worried that the rest of them would pale in comparison.  I was also worried that the walks would gradually go from awesome to suckville as we went from the first one to the last.

Thankfully, my fears were a bit unfounded (somewhat).  While the first walk was, in fact, my favorite of the thirty, there were a lot of other amazing ones.  There were also the not-amazing-but-pleasant-enough walks.  But then there were the so-so walks. And, unfortunately, there was even one shitty walk.

Sadly, the last of the thirty falls under the category of so-so.

It’s not that Cypress Hills is a bad neighborhood; in fact I wouldn’t mind living there. It’s just that there isn’t a lot to it.

Don’t worry, there are some highlights.  Such as…

...an Orthodox Church

...a synagogue that has become a church

…and also a

Oh wait, that was it?  We’re at the park already?  Crap!

2. Highland Park

One of the “interesting” aspects of this walk was that I would be steps away from Queens at certain points of this walk.  Indeed, Highland Park is shared between the two boroughs.  Judging from what I saw of it, the park is kinda “eh”-ish.

Okay, so these steps were kind of cool.

For most of the park-part of this walk, I only really got to see the sports courts.  This, to me, isn’t all that interesting.  I took a photo of it anyways, mostly because there was an autumn-y tree nearby (and this site has yet to have one of those pictured).

See? It's autumn!

There were two items that did grab my attention: a WWI memorial statue of a dude taking off his clothes (?) and a children’s community garden.

I guess it seemed appropriate at the time...

Awwwww

And in case you’re wondering: yes, the naked man and the children’s garden are practically next to each other.

3. Cypress Hills (Revisited)

After the park, the book had me dip into Cypress Hills again.  The next three photos are of two churches and a cool house.

I also stumbled upon a few colorful buildings that looked a bit out of place in this neighborhood.

And that, my friends, is how this blog anti-climatically ends.

No it doesn’t.  I wouldn’t do that to you guys.

Epilogue: Revisiting the First Walk (Brooklyn Bridge & Brooklyn Heights Promenade)

You remember how I said that the first walk was the best?  Well, I was so unmoved by the thirtieth that I decided to not go home but do the first walk all over again.  I changed the route a bit and sort of did it backwards.  In case you’re interested, here is the path I took:

This time I started at the Promenade and made my way into Manhattan via the bridge. It was about 3.5 miles.

Even though my wife and I photographed that walk, I decided to do it again for three reasons: (1) unlike the first time around, there won’t be any gross snow lying around, (2) I have a better camera now (so don’t forget to click the photos for the high rez experience!) and (3) it would give me something to break up the somewhat-serious epilogue with.

Memorial at Cadman Plaza

I grew up in the small suburban town of Cranford, NJ.  Back then, NYC might as well have been on the other side of the earth.  After all, Cranford was nothing like what we perceived New York to be; it was peaceful, safe and clean.  It was also a bit boring and very uninspiring.

As I got older, I found myself yearning to get out of the burbs.  I wanted to live somewhere that could inspire me to do cool things like, I dunno, make art or compose music or go vegan or organize political movements or something.

Brooklyn Heights Promenade

So eventually I would find myself hanging out in Manhattan a lot.  Sometimes I would go for a specific purpose, like to listen to jazz or some hip-hop.  Other times I would just walk around the city or sit in a park or a cafe for a bit.  Sometimes I would go by myself, other times with friends.  I also found myself in Williamsburg a half-dozen times or so during my college years.   On rare occasion, I would venture into other sections of the borough known as Brooklyn.

Still, at the end of the night I’d have to either take the PATH train or hit the Holland Tunnel and then take a boring, lifeless highway back home to small-town, NJ.  I hated leaving; I always felt like something amazing was going on in the island on the other side of the Hudson and I was missing it.

View of Lady Liberty from the Promenade

At some point after college, I got a stable job.  But this job was not in the city.  In fact, the job took me further away from New York.  It took me to the college town of New Brunswick.  So I moved there, instead of moving to the city.  Luckily, New Brunswick was a fantastic town to live in and I really enjoyed my time there.  But it still wasn’t the City.

During my two+ years in Brunswick, I met a young woman who would eventually become my wife.  At the time, she was working in Manhattan (but commuting from central Jersey, and about an hour and a half each way).  I asked her if she liked working in New York and if she would ever consider moving there.  Her answer to question #1 was a shrug.  To question #2, it was a hell-to-the-no.

So there it was.  I fell in love with the girl, but I knew that me and NYC were not destined to be.

View of Lower Manhattan from the Promenade

Fast-forward six years.

My wife and I were living in Elizabeth, NJ and were married for about three and a half years.  We both were working good jobs, but she wanted to break into a different sector within her field.  Doing so was proving to be difficult; it was one of those situations where she needed experience to get the job she wanted, but in order to get the experience, she needed, well, a job.

One night I get a phone call from her while she’s on her way home from a meeting.

“Dude, I think we’re moving to Brooklyn”.

Oh. My. God.  Did she just say that?

Apparently, she networked her way into a job in the sector where she wanted to work. Only thing was that the job was in Brooklyn.  And commuting from Elizabeth to Brooklyn SUCKS.  We had to move.

I was overjoyed.  It was like being told that you were not allowed to go to Disney World (because of, I dunno, religion or something), getting used to the fact and then:

"WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!!"

Settle down, Gambit.

So we enthusiastically (and nervously) start making plans.  My company transfers me to another job site in Manhattan.  We find an affordable and spacious apartment (well, affordable and spacious for Brooklyn anyways) near Prospect Park almost immediately.

Months later, my wife gave me the book.  I get inspired and create this blog.

A few months after that, two life-changing events take place literally within days of each other:

  1. My wife’s job didn’t work out
  2. A small stick with some lines on it told us that she was pregnant.

It was an emotionally confusing week.  While on the one hand we were disappointed with the first bit of news, we were absolutely elated about the second one.

Added to all that was the burning question: what the hell are we going to do now?

View of Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge

The reality was that looking for another job was most definitely going to take some time.  And time was not something we had a lot of; as her baby bump got bigger, the harder it was going to be for her to find employment.

So we moved back to Jersey.  Specifically, back to Cranford.  More specifically, with my parents.

It just made sense.  We lost half of our income and we were living in the second-most expensive city in the world (Tokyo is #1).  And we were supposed to be getting ready to feed another mouth.  And on top of all that, all of our family is west of the Hudson.

As you can imagine, this was not a fun decision to make.  Don’t get me wrong; I love my parents, everyone gets along real well and I kinda dig the small town thing (now that I am in my early thirties).  But there it was: a year after I moved into the city of my dreams, I was back in Jersey again.  And I didn’t quite know how to feel about this whole thing.

View of the Financial District from the Brooklyn Bridge

However, now that some time has passed and the completion of this blog has allowed me some closure, I think I figured out how to feel about the “Brooklyn experiment”, as my wife calls it.

I think it’s called gratitude.

  • I am grateful that I got a chance to live in the most exciting city in the world.
  • I am grateful that I still get to visit, five times a day & during business hours.
  • I am grateful that my wife got me the book and that I decided to blog about it.
  • I am grateful that this book empowered me to discover a lot of this wonderful city.
  • I am grateful that I got to finish it, especially since the last five walks were done while living in NJ.
  • I am grateful that you guys read it, whether you followed the blog from start to finish or just visited once to view a picture.
  • Most of all, I am grateful for my wife.  Without her, none of this would have been possible.

View of Midtown Manhattan from the Brooklyn Bridge

So what’s next now that the blog is over?

As for the blog itself, I’m going to keep it up until the foreseeable future.

As for me, well, my wife is mere weeks from carrying our baby to term.  So we’re very excited.  This is our first child and I can not wait to meet him, face to face (Be’ezrat Hashem).

I also can’t wait to show him Brooklyn.  After all, he was made there.

Thanks everyone.

Yours,
Aaron
 
Special thanks to our friends who walked with us. A very special thanks to both of our families, who have been nothing but supportive of us during these “interesting times”. 
p
This blog is dedicated to my wife and our son (Be’ezrat Hashem).
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7 responses

13 11 2011
Walk XXIX: East New York & Canarsie Pier « Thirty Walks in Brooklyn

[…] (and last) stop:  Cypress Hills and Highland Park! Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

14 11 2011
Heather

Aaron, I love your gratitude list…I am grateful that your wife has an amazing husband. Much happiness to you both!

14 03 2016
McRukes

I stumbled upon your blog by accident and I’m not sure if this message would still reach you, but in any case that it would I want to thank you for such an entertaining, interesting and humorous blog. This is actually the first blog I read and I’m glad I did, my only regret is that I found it 5 years late, if i have found it while you’re still doing the walk I might have enjoy it best because I could comment on your every post. Nevertheless, I still appreciate your effort in sharing your adventures with us, I take pleasure on looking at the pictures you posted and imagine what would it be like if I were with you in one of your walks as a guest companion. I’d even hope for a unique alias.

Congratulations on the new baby, he must be about 5 years old now and have (a) sibling/s. I hope you and the family is in good health. Thank you for having shared your New Year’s resolution with us, it felt like I have explored the city too, (I’m from the West). I think my favorite is the first walk -what with the excitement and all.

Best of everything for you, mate.

16 03 2016
azev315

Hey McRukes, thanks for your very thoughtful comment!

First off, I don’t think that you were “late” in finding this blog. Even though the walks were completed some time ago, I kept this blog up so that folk like you can enjoy it in the future. So I’d say that you found it right on time.

Thanks for the congratulations! Our oldest son was indeed born of good health and just turned four back in December. His little brother just turned 2.

Anyways, I really do appreciate you taking the time out of your day to read about my silly adventure. And I am very touched by your comment.

Your alias is grape-pants. Go forth, grape-pants.
😉

11 07 2017
Rukia

Hello Aaron! I hope this reply reach you in your best health along with your family.

So for 3 years now, the husband and I take a few days off to NYC and slowly visit parks and tourist destination one at a time. I always wanted to follow up a reply on your post after my first comment over a year ago but I guess I never got the chance due to ins and outs of real life, but it’s better to be late than never.

Inspired by your blog and books you recommended, the hubs and I went on a walk around Manhattan last week, spend time people watching in Central Park, walk along with other tourists in Brooklyn Bridge, took selfies in church st with the One World Trade building as background, visit the old tombstones at the back of St Peter church, and explore the subway in between. All that with the aid of google map and we nailed it! We’ve been doing that every year and I think last week was the longest walk we’ve ever done so far. We didn’t have a route actually, we just went where our feet takes us or google tells us to go, along the way we discovered small diners and coffee shop with decent pastries and good brew of coffee only to realized later after checking yelp that the mom and pop stores we’ve been was actually famous around the neighborhood with 4.5 stars reviews. We even did our laundry in one of the laundromats along 8th ave.! And all that because I found your blog, it was fun and we can’t wait to go back next summer and explore more of the city, so thank you!

I hope there are more people like us out there who read about your adventures and start their own fun, it was inspiring to explore new places and meet people along the way and make new friends. My only complain? It was sooo hot the week of July 4th in NYC last week that I got an uneven tan skin! But given another chance of exploring the city more, I’ll do it again with tons of sunscreen!

Best wishes,
Grape-pants

12 07 2017
azev315

Hello Grape-pants!

I was floored by your comment. I showed it to my wife and we are both deeply moved that this blog inspired you to explore NYC.

July is probably the worst month to explore anything, let alone Manhattan. I admire your tenacity to brave the hot grossness of summer to do a walk.

13 07 2017
Rukia

I’m glad your blog is still up and running even after so many years because I for one visit the site once in a while ever since I discovered it. It serves as guide to many walks the husband and I did not only in NYC but also in other cities we’ve been. But my favorites are NYC and my own SF of course, well at least within the country. So in our future adventures I hope I could still share it here for the benefit of those who’ll stumble upon this blog late like I did and inspire them to make their own adventures.

Please know that you and your wife, because of how you shared your explorations with us, helped me and the husband realized that it’s not just fancy dinners and movies a couple could do to enjoy time together, you just need your own two feet, a selfie stick, your phone, and google map to have fun! Oh, and sunscreen! Thank you.

Grape-Pants

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